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An indie bookstore expanding?

March 16, 2008 |  8:00 am


Yup, amid a steady drumbeat of news about Southland bookstores closing their doors due to rising rents and declining sales comes word that a Los Feliz landmark will nearly double in size.

Come May — give or take a few weeks — Skylight Books will open a second space right next door in the 1934 building at the corner of Vermont and Melbourne avenues, promises general manager and co-owner Kerry Slattery.

"It's all so exciting," Slattery writes in a March newsletter to Skylight's faithful. "It will be at least a few months before all is ready, but we plan to move our art, film, music, theater and a few other sections to the new space, which will allow us to also expand a few sections."

Why now, as Dutton's Brentwood Books prepares to close its doors at the end of the month and Book Soup shutters its Costa Mesa satellite store?

Two reasons, Slattery tells Jacket Copy:

Unlike the development pressures facing Doug Dutton's store and the high-end retail rent at South Coast Plaza, Skylight has "a supportive landlord who is offering us the space for a fair rent," she says. "He could have rented this space for a lot more money to some chain operation. He thinks that the bookstore is an important thing."

The second reason: location, location.

"Ours is a walking neighborhood," she explains. "People are going to other shops and restaurants, the movies. I don't know that there are that many places like that any more around the Los Angeles area."

Of course it helps that the landlord is one of Slattery's 10 silent partners in the 11-year-old enterprise. (It was he who proposed that she put together a group of small investors to keep a bookstore at the site of the much beloved Chatterton's, where the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Christie, a young Jodie Foster and Jackson Browne perused the shelves when they were in town.)

The new storefront has its own door, so Skylight will be moving its extensive selection of books on acting, architecture, art, film and music to the 1,100-square-foot space. That's where readers will also find graphic novels and magazines. In turn, that there'll be more room in the existing 2,000 square feet for fiction and children's books — maybe even a few more comfortable chairs.

The Skylight staff also plans to continue its schedule of eclectic events featuring authors, critics, publishers and writers-in-training who read their work.

"Hopefully we're being responsive to the community," Slattery says. It's a "bohemian area with a real lot of vitality. I think our store fits the neighborhood and vice versa."

Kristina Lindgren